Benetton v Scarlets preview: West Walians looking for Liam Williams inspiration in Italy

Pic by Richard Early

by Dylan James

Pro 14: Benetton v Scarlets

Kick Off – 20:15

Venue – Stadio Communale di Monigo, Treviso.

LIAM Williams will start for the Scarlets in Treviso tonight, as both sides look to earn their first win of the new campaign.

Scarlets have struggled to hit the ground running so far this campaign, despite earning a losing bonus point against Munster in the opening round.

The fixture sees 11 changes made to the Scarlets side who lost 20-7 to Glasgow Warriors last time out.


SCARLETS – Liam Williams; Tom Rogers, Tyler Morgan, Steff Hughes (capt), Steff Evans; Angus O’Brien, Dane Blacker; Phil Price, Marc Jones, Javan Sebastian, Sione Kalamafoni, Tevita Ratuva, Blade Thomson, Jac Morgan, Uzair Cassiem.

Replacements: Taylor Davies, Rob Evans, Werner Kruger, Morgan Jones, Ed Kennedy, Will Homer, Dan Jones, Paul Asquith.

BENETTON – Luca Sperandio, Ratuva Tavuyara, Ignacio Brex, Tommaso Benvenuti, Monty Ioane, Ian Keatley, Dewaldt Duvenage (capt), Nicola Quaglio, Hame Faiva, Filippo Alongi, Irné Herbst, Eli Snyman, Federico Ruzza, Alberto Sgarbi, Toa Halafihi.

Replacements: Tomas Baravalle, Ivan Nemer, Tiziano Pasquali, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani, Luca Petrozzi, Angelo Esposito, Leonardo Sarto.


The Scarlets are without 10 of their key players, who are away on international duty, these include Jonathan Davies and Leigh Halfpenny.

Lock Sam Lousi is serving a four-week suspension after being shown red against Glasgow Warriors in the previous fixture.

Ken Owens and Johnny McNicholl also miss out due to injury.



All eyes will be on Liam Williams, after he was released from the Wales squad to prove his fitness ahead of the Six Nations clash between Scotland and Wales next weekend.

The full-back is making his first appearance for the Scarlets since returning from the Saracens.


Sebastien Negri has made an impressive start to his Pro14 campaign for the Italian outfit. The flanker has scored a try and assisted one too. The 26-year-old has made 26 carries, the fourth most in the Pro14.



With the inclusion of Liam Williams, Scarlets will have real potency on the counter attack and stability in defence, his confidence under the high ball will offer a genuine advantage to the Scarlets.


Ratuva Tavuyara will prove to be a menace, his physical prowess from the wing spot will be a big challenge for the Scarlets, a 100kg challenge at that.



Glenn Delaney us without 10 of his key players, who are away with Wales. Scarlets may struggle to find some shape without the experience and quality of players like Jon Davies and Leigh Halfpenny. Also, Delaney suggested that the younger players will be keen to make a name for themselves, “We have got a changed group with the international call-ups and it has presented an opportunity for a lot of younger boys, the energy has been through the roof this week, it is really exciting for this group.”


The last game against the Scarlets may be playing on the mind of the players, after a devastating conversion from fly half Dan Jones in the dying seconds proved to be the difference when they lost 20-17 in Llanelli.


Steff Evans will no doubt be eager to prove that he should have been included in the Wales squad. Evans has been left out of the international team selection again.

With 108 caps for the Scarlets, scoring 230 points, you would have expected Evans to at least be included in the Wales squad, but the 26-year-old faces stiff competition in the form of Josh Adams and George North.


Despite losing to Ulster and champions Leinster, Benetton put up a strong fight, having scored 25 and 26 points in those games respectively, and with the Scarlets failing to fire on all cylinders at the moment, you can expect Benetton to pile the pressure on the Llanelli outfit. Scarlets don’t have a brilliant record in Italy, losing in 2018 and 2019. Both sides are yet to record a victory so I expect a really tough game. However, the Scarlets will be boosted by the return of Liam Williams, so I think they will dominate, Scarlets by 10.